Limitations on Fundamental Rights
The Constitution allows Parliament to impose reasonable restrictions on some of the fundamental rights. It is for the judiciary to determine the reasonableness or otherwise of such restrictions. During the proclamation of emergency, certain rights can be restricted or suspended:
(i) The right to move any court for the enforcement of all or any of the fundamental rights, except the one relating to the protection of life and personal liberty can be declared suspended by a Presidential order.
(ii) If the proclamation of emergency is on the ground of war or external aggression and not armed rebellion, provisions of Article 19 relating to freedom of speech and expression etc. are automatically suspended and would continue to be so for the period of emergency.
(iii) The fundamental rights shall cease to restrict the power of the State to make any law or to take any executive action which the State is otherwise not competent.
Parliament has been given the power to modify or restrict the fundamental rights in its application to the members of Armed forces and forces dealing with civil order and persons employed in intelligence agencies and in telecommunication systems of the Armed Forces and intelligence agencies. When martial law is enforced in an area, Parliament may by law indemnify any person in the service of the Union or the State for any act done by him in connection with the maintenance or restoration of order in the area.
Amendability of Fundamental Rights
The controversy, whether or not the Parliament had the power to amend the fundamental rights, was brought before the Supreme Court in SHANKARI PRASAD Vs.
UNION OF INDIA case in 1952. The court held that Parliament had such power. This view was confirmed in 1965 in SAJJAN SINGH Vs. STATE OF RAJASTHAN case.
This controversy again came up before the Supreme Court in GOLAK NATH Vs. STATE OF PUNJAB case in 1967.
In this case, the Court held that the Parliament shall not have the power to make a law that took away or abridged the fundamental rights. However, by the 24th Amendment of the Constituion (1971), it was made clear that the fundamental rights were amendable under the procedure laid down in Art 368, thus overriding the decision of Golaknath case. Later the decision of Keshvananda Bharati case (1973) upheld the validity of 24the Amendment and overruled the Golaknath decision.
Thus it was held that Parliament was competent to amend fundamental fights.